Skills and Strategies for Engaging in Challenging Dialogues on Race, Skin Color, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Gender and Other Diversity Related Content in the Workplace Diversity, Multiculturalism & Inclusion: Celebrating 50 Years of Title VII MNYSC HERC Diversity Conference 2014 Cheryl L. Franks, PhD, LMSW
Your School’s Vision or Mission or Statement How is this Work Represented in Your School’s Vision or Mission Statement?
Your School’s Leadership How is this Work Represented by your School’s Leadership?
Easier Said Than Done! • This is not “diversity light”!! • It’s more reflected in Chase’s lens on diversity… • “Diversity, generally understood and embraced, is not casual liberal tolerance of anything and everything not yourself. It is not polite accommodation instead, diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do...We are meant to be here together.” -William M. Chase, The Language of Action
Challenging Dialogues • How to we reach this level of diversity in our organizations? How do we create a climate of inclusion , connection and respect for differences? Recruit and retain toward a multicultural organization? Build effective, productive and collaborative cross-cultural teams? • We can’t if we’re unable to talk about issues of race, skin-color, sexual orientation…in mixed company • And that’s often the case! • Folks I work with say they move away from these conversations…when asked why, they say they just don’t know how—some talk about fear and discomfort • How do we do engaging in these conversations in our everyday professional interactions?
Challenging dialogues • Nothing has prepared us to have these conversations in mixed company • We shouldn’t expect that we know how • If we do we don’t honor the body of knowledge and skill involved • Would you trust an untrained surgeon? • It does take a body of knowledge and skill • By the end of our time together today you will have increased your capacity to have these conversations even if just a little.
Challenging dialogues on diversity-related content Dimensions of Identity and Difference • Race • Skin color • Ethnicity • Nationhood • Disability/ability • Age • Gender • Sex • Religion/spirituality • Sexual orientation • Language • Geographic location
Diversity-related content • Beyond Diversity, Cultural Competence, Multiculturalism • Not Holding Hands and Singing We are the World • Issues of Power and Privilege • A Historical and Structural Analysis • Oppression • Dominance
Why do this work? • Essential for the Development of Authentic Cross-Cultural Relationships in the Workplace • Engaging in Challenging Dialogues in Supervision and Team/Staff Meetings • Across Any of These Dimensions • Without Which There is no Authenticity
It’s About Freire’s Work • Critical Consciousness • Promoting critical consciousness means we need to pass through 3 levels of awareness • Self, Social and Global-Awareness
Self-Awareness • Centers on a critical exploration of ourselves as cultural beings and toward achieving an aware and positive cultural identity. • Encourages us to explore issues of race, disability, ethnicity, skin color, class, gender, age, religion/spirituality, nationhood, sexual orientation, language, sex assigned at birth and geographic location (not an exhaustive list). • Full awareness is facilitated by not merely celebrating these dimensions of identity but through an analysis which includes and embraces issues of power, privilege, oppression and dominance and their impact on us as well as on those we serve.
Self-Awareness • Key to self-awareness is an understanding of how identity is closely tied to privilege, oppression and dominance through the use and/or misuse of power. • Once we see the connection between identity and power relationships, we develop a healthy self-awareness that recognizes how oppression and privilege mark our own struggles and the struggle of others.
Social Awareness • Enables us to think critically and reflectively about social issues, needs and capabilities in our communities and the communities of those we serve. • It is both a knowledge base and set of cognitive skills that promote an analysis and problem solving on social conditions. • Extends the power analysis which begins in self-awareness to an understanding of how groups and institutions sustain or ameliorate inequalities at the community level. • It is through social awareness that we fully come to understand the roots of oppression, dominance and inequality both locally and globally.
Global Awareness • Then allows us to transfer this knowledge, skill set and consciousness to empathizing with the struggles of oppressed people throughout the world. • It embraces the intellectual understanding of the many universal forms of oppression from a historical, structural and systemic framework, while reaching for the actions and behaviors that demonstrate connectedness with others, empathy with suffering, and resistance to oppression. • When we have reached a level of global awareness we often view the world as a place of possibilities and change. • Most important, in our daily actions we consistently and in micro and macro ways work toward creating a better world.
Some key concepts • Barack Obama’s Speech on Race • Holding Both • Leaping Over Dominance • Not the Other Side of the Coin • Nothing Has Prepared Us • The Piece of Furniture in the Middle of the Room • Moving Closer, Moving Away • Authenticity • Building Capacity
Key concepts • Micro-aggressions/insults, macro-aggressions, micro-trauma • Racial and sexual orientation identity theory • Power and privilege; white privilege • Within groups issues • Help vs. Support (Capacity Building) Impact/Intent (Conflict Resolution) • Dominant/non-dominant statuses • Double Consciousness • Systems of Dominance and Oppression: Are we part of the problem or part of the solution
More key concepts • Goals vs. Methods • Not instantaneous • Cumulative • Non-linear • Tolerance for ambiguity and complexity • If the goals are clear but the methods aren’t, people get confused and think the goals aren’t clear • Life-long and over time • New and different paradigms, worldviews: both/and vs. either/or • Serious, not Solemn, Fun!!
It’s about Structure • “If the structure does not permit dialogue, the structure must be changed” • Paulo Freire
By the end of the hour, we will have… • increased our capacity (even if just a little) to tolerate the ambiguity, complexity and discomfort ESSENTIAL for engaging in challenging dialogues in our workplace • enhanced our understanding (even if just a little) of structural issues of dominance, oppression, power, privilege and discrimination, and the important role they play in these conversations • increased our capacity to dialogue with each other, support each other on these challenging conversations…nothing has prepared us, it is a body of knowledge and skill
Reflections on this work… • Through cross-cultural dialogue we confront the reality of cultural difference, rather than subsuming it under dubious claims to universality. -Kristin Louise Savell in Crooms • A key element of dialogical praxis (drawing from Freire) is “conscientisation,” which can be described as the raising of consciousness through dialogue linking the personal and the political, in such a way that it opens up possibilities for action as people become more aware of the structures and the discourses that define and perpetuate oppression. -Jim Ife
Reflections on this work… • We have run away from race for far too long. We are so afraid of inflaming the wound that we fail to deal with what remains America’s central social problem. We will never achieve racial healing if we do not confront each other, take risks, make ourselves vulnerable, put pride aside, say all the things we are not supposed to say in mixed company—in short, put on the table all of our fears, trepidations, wishes, and hopes. -Harlon L. Dalton
sustained commitment, concerted effort, and the attention of us all… -Lee Bollinger
Let’s get started… • Bearing witness to each other’s narratives and experiences...
The language of identity • Words vary with time, location and the individual so it’s important to respectively ask the person how they identify • So,this work is about increasing our capacity for understanding and increasing our courage to ask…
Let’s talk about gender… • I was in the doctor’s office last week and they asked me to fill out a form • The form asked for Gender: Male____Female____ • It’s so much more complicated than that… • But we have to increase our capacity to hold that complexity
Gender Identity/Social Grouping • Transgender • Cisgender • Gender ambiguous • Gender non-conforming • Gender variant • Gender queer • Androgynous • Two-Spirited • …and it’s not an exhaustive list The related oppression is “genderism”
Sex Identity/Social Grouping • Male • Female • Transexual • Intersex • Two-spirited • …and it’s not an exhaustive list The related oppression is “sexism”
Think about your work… • How might the gender or sex of your colleague, co-worker, supervisee , manager impact your ability to develop authentic cross-cultural relationships in your professional role?
Think about your work… • How might your gender or sex impact your ability to develop authentic cross-cultural relationships in your professional role ?
Racial Identity/Social Grouping • White or European American • People of Color • Asian • Asian American • Latino/a/Hispanic/Chicano/a • Black/African American • East Asian • South Asian • Native American • Biracial • Multiracial • …and it’s not an exhaustive list The related oppression is “racism
Think about your work… • How might your race impact your ability to develop authentic cross-cultural relationships in your professional role ?
Ken Hardy’s different tasks for us in these conversations • Tasks of the Privileged • To resist false notions of equality. Not helpful equating suffering • Intentions vs. consequences • To challenge the ahistorical approach. The privileged cannot understand the subjugated out of context • To develop thick skin • To not become a FOE—framer of others’ experiences • Tasks of the Subjugated • To overcome learned voicelessness; to advocate for oneself • To learn to exhale the negative messages that have become internalized • To overcome the addiction to protect, educate or change the privileged • To deal with one’s own rage, to channel it appropriately, not to eradicate it
Tasks for us all • To be the expert in your own experience, not of others • To create space for the telling of one’s story • To make space for both thoughts and feelings
Sexual Orientation Identity/Social Grouping • Straight • Heterosexual • Gay • Lesbian • Bi-Sexual • Pansexual • Asexual • Homosexual • Queer • Questioning • Two-spirited • …and it’s not an exhaustive list The related oppression is “heterosexism”
Think about your work… • How might your sexual orientation impact your ability to develop authentic cross-cultural relationships in your professional role ?
Religious Identity/Social Grouping • Christian • Catholic • Muslim • Buddhist • Hindu • Jewish • Protestant • Theist • Sikh • Wiccan • Atheist • Pagan • Agnostic • No religion • …and it’s not an exhaustive list The related oppression is “religionism”
Think about your work… • How might your religion impact your ability to develop authentic cross-cultural relationships with your patients in your role as their nurse?
Geographic Location • Identification with place of birth • Born outside the US • Born within the US, but not the New York City area • Born within the New York City area